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:ONSEQUENCES OF RAPID GROWTH                                                                     25
resistant to the adverse impacts of added numbers. For the less developed regions as a whole, growth rates of output between the mid-1950's and mid-1960's (i.e., before the Green Revolution) averaged between 2.5 and 3 percent per annum, a respectable level both by historical standards and the contemporary performance in developed regions. Nor has this been a recent or anomalous occurrence. Between the 1930's and 1950's, growth in food output within the less developed regions was again impressive by both historical and comparative guidelines, though, of course, it was accompanied by slower rates of population growth and less pressure on the agrarian sector.
Negative Effects of Rapid Population Growth. However, if we view the world food picture in terms of reciprocal effects of economic and demographic trends—granted that neither crisis nor disaster seems likely—a very different outlook emerges. Per capita food production in the less developed countries remained practically unchanged between the mid-1950's and mid-1960's in spite of substantial increases in total output. In the developed regions, on the other hand, per capita output increased significantly. Analysis of the actual output trends in the less developed countries shows that per capita production could have been approximately one sixth higher than was actually the case for 1965, had their population growth rates been those of the developed regions.
The less developed countries' output growth rates, despite their impressive level, came to only about two thirds or three fourths of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization Indicative World Plan objectives, and the entire amount of the shortfall could have been overcome by no more than a limited downtrend in fertility from traditional toward more modern levels—for example, from the present average of some 40 per 1,000 to 25 or 30 per 1,000.
Agricultural performance in the less developed countries continues to be highly subject to the vagaries of climate and weather. Sudden drops in food supply, which are usually accompanied by falling effective demand in the farm sector, reduced domestic saving, and worsened balance of payments, can spell the difference between substantial growth and stagnation in whole economies. New technology has partly countervailed the wind and weather, but the vulnerability of most less developed countries to such "exogenous" factors has not yet been significantly reduced, even where, as in India, the probability of longer-run agricultural progress seems substantial.
The main effects of agricultural transformation in the less developed countries could be relatively sudden spurts in output rather than a permanent